Instagram is growing
To put Instagram’s potential into perspective, consider this. Hubspot predicts that 3 out of 4 American businesses will use Instagram in 2020. Your business can join them and reap the benefits of social media marketing.
[Need a quick refresher on IG? Check out Back to Basics: What is Instagram?]
Instagram has a potential advertising reach of 849.3 million users. So while your organic content (i.e. the unsponsored content on your feed) is important, adding Instagram ads to the campaign puts your brand in front of an even larger audience.
Don’t think of Instagram advertising as a short cut, but as just one part of a holistic social media strategy.
What are Instagram stories?
Stories are also a short-lived form of content that lasts for only a few seconds and disappears completely after 24hrs. This inspires less polished content, which can be fun and inviting for participants.
If you have 10,000 followers or a verified account, you can also use a swipe up feature to take users to your website:
Don’t underestimate the power of Stories
Although Instagram stories have only been around for 4 years, they’ve become super popular. Half of all Instagram users use Stories daily—that’s 500 million people! Instagram Stories have even taken over competitor Snapchat in this domain. Mission accomplished for IG.
What this data tells us is that users love Stories and that Stories have huge potential. Even branded content gets heaps of engagements, with brand stories getting an 85% completion rate. Stories appeal to our fast-paced lifestyles and seem to be good at holding our interest.
What are story ads?
Instagram story ads look like a story but have many features that are useful to businesses. Like other ads across Facebook and Instagram, you can target ads to relevant audiences.
With Instagram stories ads, you can target users to increase your:
- video views
- app installs
- brand awareness
See these story ads from a range of industries and a variety of Call To Actions:
Instagram story ads vs feed ads
Feed ads are the sponsored content that appears in your feed. They’re in a square tile format like the typical Instagram post. Feed ads promote a post that will remain on your feed.
In contrast to feed ads, and like regular Stories, Story ads are also ephemeral—they disappear after 24 hours.
How to use Stories to increase ROI
Sure, stories are fun and they get heaps of engagement. But can story ads really increase ROI?
The answer, according to Facebook research, is yes!
Facebook research shows that Stories strengthen people’s relationships with brands.
In this way, Stories help people along the buyer’s journey and can be an important part of the process from discovery to purchase. Your social media strategy is never complete until you include Instagram story ads.
According to the same Facebook data, story ads combined with feed ad placements together drive efficiency. This means a lower ad spend for a better result, in other words, an improvement to ROI.
In another one of Facebook’s research insights, approximately one in two story users say that the story format has strengthened their connections to brands, driving them further along the purchase process.
So why are stories and story ads so effective at achieving better ROI on your Instagram campaigns?
Simple: the mobile-optimised nature of stories is key to their success. The vertical format optimised to 9:16 placement in feed campaigns can boost brand outcomes by 35%.
Unlike on-feed ads, story ads take up the entire screen, creating a unique opportunity of total screen immersion within the brand’s content – plus a single clear Call To Action!
Ideally, the story ad will feel so personal to the user’s feed that it blends seamlessly with content from the other people they are following. It may be an ad but it is still a story and should function in the same personable, fun, and creative way as organic content.
The mobile and platform-optimised nature of stories also increase brand familiarity in a way.
Tracking and tailoring story ads to increase ROI
Tracking is vital to your Instagram advertising strategy. Without analysing your metrics, you won’t know what’s working, what isn’t working, what to keep doing, and what to do differently.
To track metrics around your Stories and story ads, you can go to Instagram Insights on the mobile app, Facebook Business Manager, or use another tool like Hootsuite.
This is where you can look at your Instagram stories engagement rate including Reach (the number of people who saw your ad), Impressions (the number of times the ad was seen – one person will see multiple impressions) and Click-Through Rates (the number of swipes or clicks to your website).
See the example of Insights as seen on Facebook Business Manager for some Instagram story ads:
In the above example, the number of Impressions can be calculated by multiplying the number of People Reached by the Frequency.
You can also see demographics around your audience, like age group and gender. This can help you tailor your content and Stories ads to their tastes and interests.
Because many best performing Instagram story ads, like their organic counterparts, have embraced the style of User Generated Content, you will also likely be able to optimise your creative approach in a more cost-effective way.
Using stories in your Instagram advertising strategy
Now that you know how useful Instagram story ads are, it’s time to put them into action as part of your Instagram advertising strategy.
Always use story ads together with a curated feed and feed ads. Don’t forget to track your metrics to get the best results. You’ll get a better ROI in no time.